Slightly over 40 years ago, when I was in graduate school, “Business Ethics” wasn’t a separate course, but it was a section that was covered in several courses. A wide variety of topics were covered in these sections, but there was always one caveat – as young men and women eager to enter the job market, we were advised to “hang onto these concepts until you’re comfortable in your position” – in other words, we shouldn’t expect to be calling the ethical shots anytime soon.
Fast-forward to 2018, and almost every provider/user of technology is facing ethical challenges. An alarming abundance of data is being gathered by applications, shared via social media and sold between organizations. Technology is evolving and expanding so fast that ethical boundaries are often crossed without people (those gathering data and those from whom data has been gathered) even being aware of their location.
Last week, I was reading an article about the rising number of college courses, and even degree programs in ethics in medical technology. Unfortunately, the article was in a proprietary publication and I can’t share it. Medical professionals operate under a code of ethics, less so pharmaceutical companies and health insurers. So, I was pleased to see a long list of seminars like “Technology & Mental Health” being offered by the School of Social Work Continuing Education • University of Pittsburgh – the university I attended. The following snippets are from the brochure:
“This workshop will discuss, review, and experience the latest technology solutions for the social work profession in the mental health field. The program explores ethical dilemmas and clinical challenges that exist when considering the use of technology in the delivery of social work clinical interventions and documentation with a focus on the updated Code of Ethics.
Be familiar with technologies that are already present in the health care space…and potential ethical issues related to using them, including boundaries, confidentiality/privacy, informed consent, and competence.
Articulate challenges to privacy related to using video technology and health apps with clients/patients and families.
Explore the role of health care professionals in helping children and families understand how to safely use and navigate the on-line world.
Explore the need to create inter-professional relationships with technology professionals as a part of competent, ethical practice.”
From my point of view, the last topic is the most important. Technology professionals need to better understand how and why data is used and how it should be controlled. I could go on, but I’m bumping up against the word limit. I’ll leave you with this thought: Right now, we have to be our own advocates. We have to protect our data. We have to ask questions and demand answers, and we have to learn more about the ways in which data is collected, used and how it can be protected. I am encouraged by the growing number of courses and seminars, and I encourage everyone to consider taking advantage of educational opportunities in your profession.
The “We are the World” Blogfest has extended its year-long journey and is in its 17th month. This blogfest’s goal is to spread the message of light, hope and love in today’s world. We are challenging all participants to share the positive side of humanity. This month’s co-hosts: Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein,and Peter Nena, welcome participants and encourage all to join in during future months. #WATWB is a blog hop on the last Friday of every month. Click HERE to check out the intention and rules of the blogfest and feel free to sign up at any time between now and February of 2019.